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The Real One draws rare post 1 at Yonkers

November 17, 2017

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The Real One drew the rail in Saturday's $40,000 Open Handicap Pace at Yonkers Raceway.
The all-age track record holder at Yonkers is coming off a win in last week's Open as the 9-5 favorite. Pat Lachance, longtime trainer-driver of the Mach Three gelding, could take credit for the Hilltop success of the lifetime winner of $904,593. Instead, the horseman defers praise to owner Helene Fillion, who is understanding of The Real One's off-the-pace style and doesn't pressure Lachance to take the horse out of his comfort zone.
"I think the key is the owner," said Lachance. "We're on the same page; we understand how he races and we understand that sometimes you're at the mercy of the pace and it's not going to work out, but you also know that if you fire him up and send him out of there, it's not going to work either, so you try to race him the way he likes to race and try to win the race.

"That's the biggest asset. I give her a lot of credit because she never puts pressure on him. He's the kind of horse that if you had put pressure on him, he never would have been The Real One; he'd never be what he is, no question in my mind.

Fillion bought a 3-year-old The Real One online for $10,000 in 2014 and initially trained him herself. After a slow start at Rideau Carlton, where The Real One failed to finish in the trifecta, Fillion campaigned her budding star to a win and three more placings at Hippodrome 3R. Recognizing his talent, Fillion sent The Real One to Lachance to compete for the rich purses at Yonkers Raceway.

"She lives maybe 10 minutes from where I was raised as a kid until I was 10 on the farm in Montreal," Lachance said. "I never knew her until this horse and she was looking for somebody who's French-Canadian who she can communicate with and she knows I take care of my horses. I have a good reputation for taking care of them and she wanted to send them to somebody that she trusts.

"It means a lot to me because you don't see that as much anymore and obviously there's not a lot of trainer-drivers around, I'm one of the few and people still like that. People still come to me because of that, so it makes me feel great, no question."

The Real One blossomed under Lachance's tutelage. He's won 41 of 150 races with another 50 placings. Last year, he took a lifetime mark of 1:50h when setting an all-age track record in the Open Handicap at Yonkers Nov. 19.

With six wins, including a 1:50.3 score in the Yonkers Open Sept. 23 and $179,350 in earnings this year, The Real One isn't showing any signs of slowing down nearing the end of his 7-year-old season. The Real One's class and closing style help keep him in top form, Lachance explained.

"It's very rare that you see horses stay at this level for four years in a row. It's amazing," he said. "He's just so consistent and just a nice horse, a top horse, and he just does his job. He loves to race, he stays sound. We're very fortunate to have him.

"He has one big run; he's not a horse that you want to send out of there. He likes to finish up at the end and pick off horses. That style of racing, it just gives him a chance to stay good."

As a trainer-driver, Lachance gets the opportunity to know his horse's habits on the racetrack better than most. The Real One is no exception and Lachance understands exactly what he can and can't do in the driver's seat.

"He can get a little grabby. That's the only thing he does wrong," he said. "When he follows cover sometimes you've got to be a little careful with him that way. Besides that, he's pretty much OK. You just can't fire him up too much."

Despite posting a neck victory in last week's pacing feature, an open draw in Saturday's Open Pace afforded The Real One the rare luxury of starting along the pylons. The Real One has started from posts 7 or 8 in three of his last five starts and hasn't drawn inside post 4 since winning a $35,000 overnight from post 2 Aug. 19. Lachance plans to be more aggressive as a result.

"I definitely want to protect the rail a little bit, no question," Lachance said. "I'll try and get away as close as I can without firing him up to where he's out of control. If I fire him up, he's going to want to go a thousand (mph) out of there and that's not good for him. I'll try to keep him as relaxed as I can and try to keep him as close as I can and we'll take it from there.

"If we end up in the two hole, great. If not, I can come first-up with him and he likes that. Hopefully things work out for us, but there's definitely a lot worse spots than the rail."

The Real One is the 3-1 morning-line choice in Saturday's Open Pace, but isn't the only local standout moving inside. Bit Of A Legend drew post 4 and off a third-place finish last week, is the 7-2 second choice on the line. Caviart Luca, last week's runner up, will start from post seven while Dr J Hanover, a wire-to-wire Open Handicap winner Oct. 28, drew post 8. Orillia Joe, Maxdaddy Blue Chip, Scott Rocks, and Blood Brother complete the field.

"Bit Of A Legend is probably the horse to beat in there, but there's a few other ones. They're in the open for a reason, they can all win with a trip, so hopefully it all works out," Lachance said. (SOANY)

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